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IDEA Complaint Decision 19-040

On June 7, 2019 (form dated May 31, 2019), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which occurred during the 2018-19 school year, are addressed below.

Whether the district properly conducted a special education evaluation.

School districts are required under state and federal special education law to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school with a regular high school diploma. Each district must establish procedures for accepting and processing referrals. All referrals must be in writing, and the district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district. A parent may submit a special education referral to the school district. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team, and the IEP team must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, if any, are needed to complete the evaluation. The student’s parent must be afforded an opportunity to participate in this review. In addition, this review must include not less than one regular education teacher, one special education teacher, and a local educational agency (LEA) representative. If the IEP team determines additional data are required, within 15 days of receiving the referral, the district must send to the student’s parent a request for consent for additional assessments. An IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after receiving parental consent for additional assessments.

On October 3, 2018, the district received a special education referral stating concerns about the student’s speech and language skills. A review of existing evaluation data was conducted on October 8, and October 17, with the required district staff members and parent. On October 17, within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the district sent the parent notice and a request for consent to evaluate the student and conduct additional assessments. This included a description of the areas to be evaluated and the types of assessments that would be used. On October 31, the district received the parent’s consent to conduct additional assessments.

On December 19, within the 60-day time limit, the IEP team met to determine eligibility for special education. The IEP team reviewed information, including a speech and language evaluation, district assessments, parent information, and teacher observations. The IEP team, including the speech and language pathologist, used the speech and language evaluation and teacher observations to determine the student met eligibility in the area of speech or language impairment and need for special education. The district properly conducted a special education evaluation.

Whether the district properly implemented the IEP for a student with a disability.

The student’s IEP in effect for the 2018-19 school year includes speech and language services for 30 minutes, two times per week. Documentation provided by the district demonstrate that beginning on January 9, the student did not receive six speech and language sessions due to snow/cold school closures and three speech and language sessions due to the therapist attending meetings outside the district. The LEA must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each student with a disability by developing a program that meets the student’s unique needs, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program articulated in the IEP. The IEP team should consider the impact of the missed sessions on the student's progress and performance and determine how to ensure the continued provision of FAPE in order for the student to continue to progress and meet the annual goals in his or her IEP. Whether an interruption in special education services constitutes a denial of FAPE is an individual determination that must be made on a case-by-case basis. Although the special education director and speech and language therapist reviewed the student’s progress, the IEP team, including the parent did not meet to determine whether the missed sessions impacted the student’s progress and performance. The district did not properly implement the individualized education program for a student with a disability.

Whether the district properly provided the student’s parent periodic reports on the student’s progress toward attaining the annual IEP goals according to the schedule determined by the IEP team.

Parents of students with disabilities must be informed periodically about their student’s progress toward meeting the measurable annual IEP goals. The IEP must identify when reports about the student’s progress will be provided to the parent (34 CFR § 300.320[a][3][ii]). The student’s IEP developed on December 19, indicates reports about the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals were to be provided to the parents quarterly. Staff interviews demonstrate the progress reports were put into the student’s backpack each quarter. Since receiving the complaint, the district and parent agreed to send an email each quarter with the progress reports. The district properly provided the student’s parent periodic reports on the student’s progress toward attaining the annual IEP goals according to the schedule determined by the IEP team.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP meeting with the parent to determine whether compensatory services are required for the failure to implement the student’s speech and language services. The district must send a copy of the IEP to the department within ten days of the IEP team meeting. Additionally, within 30 days of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure IEP teams consider the impact of the missed sessions on the student's progress and performance and determine how to ensure the continued provision of FAPE in order for the student to continue to progress and meet the annual goals in his or her IEP.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.

Sincerely,

//signed by BVH 8/6/19
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
BVH:sao

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781